The desire to eat and run is by no means an exclusively American obsession. Grab-and-go dining, in fact, reaches peak velocity in European cities. To find the best way to satisfy fast-moving travelers there, we canvassed 10 local experts for their favorite restaurants, snack stands and food shops. They named a variety of places to pick up a quick meal, from a monster pizza bianca in Rome to a neat onion pie in Paris. Follow their leads and you won't have to sacrifice valuable sightseeing time to the demands of your appetite.
EXPERT Tamasin Day-Lewis, columnist for England's Food Illustrated and author of West of Ireland Summers, a book of recipes and memories that will be published in the States this month (R. Rinehart). HER RECOMMENDATIONS For food that's as fast paced as modern London, rush to the venerable Lina Stores, a family-run Italian delicatessen that sells wonderful buffalo mozzarella, salamis, anchovies and, in the autumn, amazing porcini mushrooms foraged from a secret location in the woods. Then head over to Baker & Spice. The bakery, which uses ovens built in 1902, has long been known for great breads. However, its pastries are equally memorable--especially the apricot tart, in which the fruit slices stand up vertically, each tip fired to a rich, dark brown. Chocoholics might not be satisfied by a fruit tart, no matter how delicious it may be: for them, the destination of choice is Sally Clarke for a truffle fix. Sally Clarke also sells English and Irish farmhouse cheeses and yogurt, which are perhaps less addictive than its truffles but just as marvelous.
EXPERT Pierre Wynants of Comme Chez Soi, the most famous chef in Belgium. HIS RECOMMENDATIONS When you're too busy to make a full stop on the restaurant-dense Rue des Bouchers, slow down just long enough to grab a shrimp croquette from Aux Armes de Bruxelles, a lovely Art Deco restaurant. Or you might swing by L'Atelier Gourmand for charcuterie, La Petite Vache for cheese and the Pralines Neuhaus flagship (in Europe's first covered arcade) for a supply of chocolate. If you'd rather order a complete restaurant meal to go, hit La Porte des Indes for Indian, Blue Elephant for Thai or Jean-Pierre Bruneau for classic Belgian. The sublime coffee-cream-filled cakes sold at Wittamer are an ideal way to complete a meal of any ethnicity. Style-conscious Belgian couples make a pilgrimage to Wittamer to procure wedding cakes; and on Sunday mornings, the entire city seems full of chic shoppers toting clear plastic "W" bags filled with a selection of the bakery's attention-grabbing confections.